Management Plan

What's the future of Hamilton Gardens?

The Hamilton Gardens is an outstanding public park contributing to the social, cultural and economic good of Hamilton. Let's make it even better...

Hamilton City Council is reviewing the Hamilton Gardens Management Plan to reflect the current aspirations for the development and management of the gardens, and a Draft Management Plan (2019) has been produced. It provides an overview of the way the Gardens are managed, and includes proposed developments to address transport, access, and safety issues. All developments proposed in the Draft Management Plan rely on external funding. The Council’s current 10-Year Plan proposes raising $9.5 million over 10 years through a targeted rate and $15 million through donations, grants, sponsorship and gifts. 


The Draft Management Plan 2019 proposes a new layout to improve the experience of visitors to the gardens and allow for new developments to take shape. The Plan also proposes improvements in traffic flow and better access for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport.

Currently parking is fragmented throughout the site; the disconnection between the two entrances is confusing. None of the carparks are easily accessible and there is congestion during busy times. The Management Plan proposes linking the site of the current Rhododendron Lawn with the second carpark to create a consolidated parking area, enabling a central access point to the themed gardens through a covered entrance and new visitor centre. Two cycleways are provided across the site and the main pathways given an easy accessible grade.

The current site of the main carpark would be developed into more theme gardens as part of stage 3, taking advantage of the riverside spaces. A lawn similar to the Rhododendron Lawn would be developed to the north of the Rose Gardens.

The Draft Plan includes the option of an entry fee for the enclosed gardens for non-Hamilton residents. This has been included in case the Council makes a future decision to charge an entry fee.

Download: Hamilton Gardens Draft Management Plan 2019 [PDF, 41 pages, 3.5MB]


  • GOAL 1 To create a world class garden experience
  • GOAL 2 To improve the capacity and practical operation of the Hamilton Gardens site
  • GOAL 3 To enhance the value of Hamilton Gardens to the local community
  • GOAL 4 To protect and sustain Hamilton Gardens for future generations

What's next?

Public consultation on the Draft Management Plan was open from 8 April to 9 June 2019. Submissions and feedback will be provided to Council for consideration before approving the new Operational Management Plan. Find out more on the Hamilton City Council website.

Four stages of development

Over the past four years (red coloured areas)

  • Completed gardens and courts: Tudor Garden and Ancestral Walkway, Concept Garden, Braithwaite Court and Huddleston, Lawn Court, Mansfield Garden.
  • Completed facilities: Office redevelopment, Huddleston meeting room, Information Centre refurbishment, temporary car park, playground, playground toilet, Changing Places toilet, jetty and jetty approach.
  • Under construction: Surrealist Garden, Western Court, and Picturesque Garden.

Stage 1: 2018-2022 (yellow coloured areas)

Projects that can be done before the car park is relocated.

  • Baroque Garden, Medieval Garden, linking path, Ancient Egyptian Garden, court in front of Egyptian Garden, Governor's Green, Hamilton Club Pavilion and Pasifika Garden.
  • Facilities: Western toilet, maintenance shed, extended maintenance yard, upgraded courts in front of the Pavilion, Visitor Arrival Centre extension, satellite cafe, and consenting for the next stage.

Stage 2: 2022-2024 (green coloured area)

  • New car park and linking road, associated paths and cycleway, covered walkways and bridge, fencing around the new enclosed area, services, stormwater disposal system and drains, smoothing of the hillside amphitheatre, consenting for stage 3 and general site preparation.

Stage 3: 2024-2028 (blue coloured area)

Projects that cannot be done until the car park is relocated.

  • Victorian Flower Garden, Bird Lady Court, Fountain Court, Persian Garden, Vedic Garden, Bee Meadow, and Riverside Promenade.
  • If the high rate of building inflation eases, then also the English Landscape Garden, Roman Portico Garden, and Hortus Botanicus.

Stage 4: Beyond the 10-Year Plan (purple coloured areas)

  • Hortus Botanicus, Roof Garden, Eastern toilet block, Echo Bank Bush development, Farm Garden, Mahayana Sanctuary Garden, Event Court, and French Paterre Garden.

Concept map

Frequently asked questions

What is a Hamilton Gardens Management Plan?

The 1977 Reserves Act requires all New Zealand parks to have management plans outlining their future use and development. The primary intentions of the Act are to: protect natural environments, ensure the public freedom of access and to provide local communities with the opportunity to be involved in decisions.

Why is the Hamilton Gardens Management Plan being reviewed?

A new long term plan for Hamilton Gardens has been developed since the last review of the Garden’s Management Plan. Public submissions to Council’s Ten Year Plan asked that the long term plan is recognised through this Management Planning process so that development of the Gardens can continue.

How long will it take to finish Hamilton Gardens?

That will be totally dependent on the funding that becomes available either through Council, funding agencies or from sponsorship. Development of Hamilton Gardens has always been driven by the community and that seems likely to continue. 

What is the point of developing Hamilton Gardens further?

As the region’s most popular visitor attraction, Hamilton Gardens already plays an important role in the local $1.6 billion visitor industry as well as adding to the city’s reputation as a place to live and visit. Completing the Gardens unique ‘story of gardens’ concept should make this one of the world’s great gardens with substantial long term benefits for the region.  

What gardens are next to be developed?

The development programme until mid 2022 includes: an Ancient Egyptian Garden, Pacifika Garden, Medieval Garden, Baroque Garden, the Palm Court, Hamilton Club pavilion, maintenance shed, toilet block, a food kiosk, Pavilion forecourt upgrade and an enlargement to the Information Centre.

Where is the money coming from to pay for all of this?

Hamilton’s Long Term Plan proposes raising $9.5 million over ten years through a targeted rate ($10 in 2018 and increasing by $1 per year to $20 in 2028).  Another $15 million is to be sought through: donations, grants, sponsorship and gifts in kind. That $25 million would complete stages 2 to 4.

Sometimes the Gardens are so crowded it’s difficult to find a carpark and sometimes you need to queue for the toilet or to get a drink at the café. What’s being done to address these issues?

In the long term plan access to all carparks will be provided from both entrances which will reduce the traffic management issues. There’ll be another food kiosk, more toilets and more parking with easier access from the carparks. Cycleway and bus access into the site will also be improved to reduce the demand for parking.  

Where will the activities that currently use the Rhododendron Lawn move to?

A lawn area of a similar size to the Rhododendron Lawn is being developed to provide a very similar space. Referred to as the Governor’s Green, it’s located north of the Rose Garden between Cobham Drive and the Waikato River. Another area is being developed as an amphitheatre on the hillside specifically for the concerts that are currently held on the Rhododendron Lawn.

The plan mentions the possibility of paid entry. Does this mean that paid entry is going to be introduced?

In 2018 the Council decided not to introduce an entry charge but to look to increasing revenue to offset costs through donations and a larger retail space. The Management Plan includes a policy that would give Council the capacity to introduce an entry change at some stage without needing to review the whole Management Plan again. So at this stage the plan says that Council could introduce a charge, not that it will.